In-person academics next fall

Eva Bard, Editor-in-Chief

Next school year, CESJDS will return to a pre-COVID-19 school week with in-person classes five days a week from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. After an unusual year and a half, students and faculty alike will have to adjust back to a full school week.

“All in all, our high school students did great this year. The teachers were phenomenal,” Interim Principal and Dean of Students Roslyn Landy said. “The students received an excellent education this past year, but could not learn as they have in the past, and it’s time to return to the superior education students deserve and that teachers want to provide.”

JDS is considering decreasing the six-foot social distance policy to three feet, following CDC guidelines, to fit both middle and high school in the building at once. The school plans to retain many of this year’s safety measures, such as mask-wearing, high-level cleaning, better air filtration and some form of distancing.

This past year, some classes were larger than normal because, “at the time, we assumed we would not be in the building,” Landy said. This upcoming year, however, smaller class sizes will be on the radar of administration as they craft schedules, she said.

Although many high school students and teachers enjoyed the later start times of school this year, the Lower School and Upper School will re-standardize their start times to fulfill state requirements and sync together the two buildings. For the high school, the 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. school day will look very similar to a pre-COVID-19 schedule.

“It is going to be a shock to many students, and I think we are all going to reminisce about this year and really appreciate the extra time,” junior Zoe Fischman said.

In a recent survey done by the school, 98% of families reported that they plan to send their children back five days a week. The school expects students will come in person and will not offer a virtual learning option. However, JDS will offer a Zoom option for COVID-19 medical reasons on a case-by-case basis. Zoom options will also be made available for students who cannot come in for a long period of time, such as for a severe illness or injury.

“Teaching in a classroom with students in the room and at home is the least effective way for teachers to teach,” Landy said. “It is difficult for the teachers and for the students both at home and in school.  In addition, adolescents should be in school socializing, being together and getting the most of their education by interacting with the teacher and their classmates.”

Changing guidelines, increased vaccination rates and the risk of new strains all factor into the administration’s decisions. Because of this, there are many unfinalized details, such as if the school will require students to quarantine before beginning school. However, Head of School Rabbi Mitchel Malkus plans to send an email by July 6 to provide more information.

The administration is also working on finding ways to incorporate the positive changes made this year into next year’s schedule. For example, according to Landy, the schedule might have more breaks because the students and staff found them beneficial. Some individual teachers, such as English teacher and college counselor Allison Davison, plan to adjust their own class structure to include some of the changes they made this year.

“I really think there have been positive pieces of us having more personal attention, times to meet with students individually and an overall slower pace,” Davison said. “I’m hoping that I can figure out a way, in a five-day-a-week atmosphere, to bring that balance, so [students] are not just attending my class four days a week and working, and then going home and doing more work.”

While returning to a normal schedule will be a hard adjustment for many students and faculty, many others are excited to go back fully after such a long break.

“The main thing that I just think is going to be great is [students], as well as the teachers, we all had a break, a real break,” Davison said. “I think there is going to be awesome energy when we come back in the fall. We’re all so tired of being home. I’m really excited.”